Nvidia has been popping out Kepler cards like a circus clown car since the company launched its 6-series GPUs in early 2012, and now we finally reach the bottom of the GTX barrel with the $150 GeForce GTX 650 Ti. This card slots in right below the $230 GTX 660 and has less of everything—less CUDA, less memory (and a narrower memory bus width), and less PCB.
Though a 6-inch PCB is certainly not small—cough—it makes the 650 Ti the smallest card we’ve tested in a while. Since this particular board is overclocked, Gigabyte has bolted on a dual-fan cooling mechanism that adds three inches to the card’s length. Gigabyte has also doubled the card's RAM allotment over the reference design to 2GB. The extra RAM and cooling adds $20 to the price tag, as well.
Don't let its size fool you: Underneath the massive cooling shroud lies a wee 6-inch PCB.
In addition to the down-spec’d nature of the GTX 650 Ti, it’s also missing two performance-related features: SLI for dual-card gaming and GPU Boost functionality, so the board won't overclock automatically during gaming. To its credit though, Gigabyte ships this card overclocked by 107MHz, and you can crank it up even further via the company’s OC Guru II software. Given its massive cooling apparatus, we're sure the card can handle it.
In testing, the little gipper outperformed AMD cards in a similar price range, besting both the Radeon HD 6850 and HD 6870 by small-to-medium margins. However, our target is 60fps at 1920x1200, and when using that standard the card fell short. Granted, we turn everything up to Ultra or High and enable 4x AA, so we could have dialed things down a bit and probably hit 60fps in Dirt 3, Batman, and Just Cause 2. Since we're already at 77fps in Far Cry 2, that would mean possibly reaching our goal in four out of eight games; not bad for such a small video card. The trouble is that the Radeon HD 7850 costs just $20 more, has CrossFire support, and was faster in almost every test we ran, making a final choice slightly more difficult.
If you have a rock-solid $150 budget, we have no reservations recommending a stock GTX 650 Ti, and the Gigabyte version is even better for an extra $20. But if you have even $10 more you should go with the Radeon HD 7850 since it's a faster card.
Note: This review was taken from the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC
Quiet; 2GB of RAM; overclocked.
No SLI; no GPU Boost; borderline acceptable performance.
Gigabyte GTX 650 Ti OC
XFX Radeon HD 6850
AMD HD Radeon HD 6870
XFX Radeon HD 7850
Gigabyte GTX 660 OC
3DMark 2011 Perf
3DMark Vantage Perf
Shogun 2, 1080p (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps)
Dirt 3 (fps)
STALKER: CoP DX11 (fps)
Just Cause 2 (fps)
Batman: Arkham City (fps)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus P9X79 motherboard with 16GB of DDR3/1600 and an AX1200 Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows Ultimate. All games are run at 1920x1200 with 4x AA and all settings maxed out, except for the 3DMark tests, and Shogun 2, which is run at 1080p High settings.